Lights go out in Bollywood strike

Lights go out in Bollywood strike

More than 100,000 Bollywood actors, technicians and cameramen went on strike today for better pay and working hours, halting dozens of movies and television productions.

A coalition of 22 unions representing technicians, dancers, lighting experts and other jobs ordered their members not to show up for work, halting one of the world's most prolific movie industries indefinitely.

More than 200 Hindi-language films are produced every year in Mumbai, home of the film industry.

"Filming has been cancelled because workers have not reported on sets," said Dinesh Chaturvedi, head of the Federation of Western India Cine Employees.

"Workers will not report back for work unless we are paid in time and have better working hours."

The strike could be a major blow to the local economy. Revenue from India's film business

generated roughly €1.26bn in 2006 and is expected to double by 2012.

The strike comes just before the Hindu festival season, which usually sees the industry's biggest films compete for large audiences.

Union officials said some of Bollywood's top stars, including Shah Rukh Khan (pictured) and Amitabh Bachchan, supported the strike.

Bollywood movies and television programs from Bollywood are popular across South Asian, as well as among non-Hindi speakers in dozens of countries around the world.

While Bollywood films often portray glamorous dance sequences set in exotic destinations, working conditions for background actors and the film crew are notoriously poor.

Workers who build movie sets or handle lighting get paid about €6.30 for long days of work without overtime.

"As per our agreement with producers, workers are paid for eight hours, but they work far beyond this. They are not paid more money and are not even paid on time," said Mr Chaturvedi.

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